Robert Durst faces a possible 10-year federal prison sentence after being charged Wednesday (April 8) with violating U.S. gun law, according to a new petition filed in New Orleans’ U.S. District Court.
Durst was charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which under federal law is punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine. The charge stems from the same March 14 arrest at the Canal Street J.W. Marriott hotel in which two FBI agents and a Louisiana state trooper assigned to the FBI New Orleans task force said they found a loaded .38-caliber revolver and more than 5 ounces of marijuana in his hotel room.
That arrest prompted an Orleans Parish grand jury to indict the New York real estate heir on two Louisiana weapons charges Wednesday morning. Durst is scheduled to be arraigned on those counts Thursday before Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich. But that state case now is likely to be superseded by the federal charge.
Durst is to be arraigned April 16 in federal court before U.S. District Judge Lance Africk.
The petition filed by assistant U.S. attorney Myles Ranier, on behalf of U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office, asks a federal magistrate judge to order Durst be transferred from his current state custody at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel into the custody of U.S. Marshals until his federal case is resolved. That most likely means Durst will be held in federal detention in St. Charles Parish, though that could not be immediately confirmed.
Attempts to contact Durst’s legal team late Wednesday night were unsuccessful.
Durst’s state indictment saw him charged with being a felon in possession of a gun and possession of a gun in the presence of a controlled dangerous substance. Conviction on those charges could bring sentences ranging from five to 20 years in state prison.
Durst was detained at the behest of Los Angeles police, who have sought his extradition in order to book him with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of writer Susan Berman in December 2000. Durst’s links to three suspected murders most recently were outlined in the the HBO documentary series “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” Through attorney Dick DeGuerin, Durst has denied responsibility for Berman’s death.
DeGuerin is the Houston-based attorney who in 2003 helped Durst win acquittal by a Texas jury on a charge that he murdered his Galveston neighbor, Morris Black, in 2001. Durst admitted to shooting Black and dismembering his body, most of which later washed up inside trash bags in Galveston Bay. He was acquitted after asserting that he shot Black in self-defense. Black’s head never was recovered.
Durst also has been suspected in the still-unsolved disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Durst, who vanished from the couple’s New York estate in 1982.